This is one of the most comforting verses in Scripture, written during a very turbulent period. The Israelites were taken out of their land by the Babylonians into exile for many years and much looked quite bleak. The words comforted God’s people and even though they couldn’t ‘see’ a way out of their dismal circumstances, they held on to the promise that God’s plan for them would not be woe, but welfare, with a future filled with hope. Though written thousands of years ago, the power in the Word, can help us to adapt these verses to meet our present circumstances. Hope holds and enriches us while we are waiting for our miracle. My calendar saying, “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”
How many of us usually look at our own bleak caretaking experiences and feel lost and afraid? With a necessary shift in our awareness, we are called to maintain our focus on the relationship we have with the Lord, spending time each day to both talk and listen. I recall the day I moved from my ‘usual’ seat in a familiar place and had an entirely changed perspective, sensing my focus needed adjusting. God speaks to us in a variety of ways, if we are open to hearing. Scripture repeatedly testifies that God knows our minds and hearts. He promises to listen to our prayers and we know this is true from both Testaments, because they tell a seamless story of God’s loving action throughout salvation history.
Realistically, we probably expect some difficulty each day, yet we can choose to exchange fear-based priorities and expectations for God’s presence – a constant, loving guide to a life of joy and peace. I read recently that ‘adversity sets us free from the illusion of being in control.’ No matter our trying circumstances, our go-to is often anxiety. With this natural tendency to feel anxious, it follows that our focus is only on the problems. We easily forget about God and the help He can supply. It seems a worldly focus only increases anxiety. We are reminded in Philippians 4:6, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving make your requests known to God.” God’s promise for us is always restoration, but it requires us to wait and trust, as did the Israelites in the exile period.
We do not have the answers, but as we notice our mind becoming focused on fear, we can consciously turn our thoughts to the presence of God. It is about the ‘letting go,’ not an easy place for any of us. I share a recent prayer given to me – “May the God of surrender be with you, leading you gently beyond your fears and hesitations to the freeing surrender of love; and may your loving surrender be a source of strength and encouragement to others engaged in the journeying process. May the blessings of surrender be upon you.” What are your feelings about ‘letting go’ and trusting God?